We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Natasha Parker. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Natasha below.
Natasha, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Covid has brought about so many changes – has your business model changed?
Prior to Covid we had a studio space in Marietta, GA. When Covid hit we closed for a few months and reopened for two months to have a summer program. Being creative, I only used that to my ability during our downtime to restructure the way we provided our services and roll out programs that I had sitting on the back burner, or really was second, and third guessing introducing to our market.
After our summer program, we decided to close our location and focus on mobile. This was the peak of our “Covid” business because most families were still quarantining, but wanted to be able to have something for their families to do. Whether it was art kits, small birthday parties, or private art lessons in-home or virtually we found a way to make art a big part of Covid friendly activities. Families felt safe creating together and it was therapeutic! Our brand still has the same goal and impact for our community we just deliver it directly to our clients instead of them having to come to us to get the experience.
Natasha, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I have always been into art. I am a self-taught artist with a passion for it in all forms. I went to school for Interior Design while living in Lancaster, CA. I really thought at that time I was going to design movie and magazine sets. Then I moved to Atlanta, GA where that industry didn’t pick up until a couple of years later. So I went back to school for Business Administration while I tried to figure out what I wanted to do.
Eventually, my past emotions help mold what I became more passionate about serving my community with. When I was younger I would keep so many traumatic events bottled in that my only outlet was art. As I got older I would mentor children and I would listen to their stories and I just wanted to do more. I wanted to create a safe place where kids could have creative freedom. I wanted to be that person for them. They can release their emotions through art and my hope would be that one day they would pass their creativity along to someone like them.
Prior to the studio’s Marietta location, we were always mobile, and before Covid we were already preparing to launch a virtual program so it was an easy transition during quarantine. Eventually, we closed the physical location to lower our overhead expenses. I was afraid of losing everything, probably the scariest and most devastating moment I had felt in a long time. However, the community has been extremely supportive. I am so proud to see familiar faces on a constant basis, happy to make new friends, and I love that our clients use our services again and again!
I’m more proud of the mini staff and very thankful for them because they have stuck by me through my craziness. I truly appreciate their creativity, energy, and flexibility through the uncertainty. I think they understand that this isn’t easy and I am undefeated.
Any fun sales or marketing stories?
This is honestly the least profitable marketing risk ever! When The PEA Studio first started we were offered an opportunity to partner with Chic-Fil-A to do the Marietta Square cow drop. We weren’t even open a week, with New Years less than four weeks away, we literally had to place a bid like that day. We did not have the revenue, but decided to go for it anyways. We were supposed to have exposure, our name on flyers, and press; I was pumped. Like we are about to do something major with Chic-Fil-A and this is going to get business booming right into the New Year. I am not going to say how much we put in this bid, let alone all the marketing materials and the supplies we had to purchase to put on this event. Just know we could’ve paid the year of our studio’s lease in advance.
Anyhow, New Years Eve came and everyone is having a good time, family and friends came out in the freezing cold to support. We had people painting in the street, kids were excited. The countdown begins, and the crane drops the stuffed cows onto the Chic-Fil-A logo! That’s when I realized our poor little business was drowned out by the Chic-Fil-A brand. The PEA Studio didn’t have any exposure, name wasn’t even on a sheet of paper we didn’t stand a chance. The next day I looked all over social media, and local news outlets. Everything was mentioned and photographed except for us. Not going to lie I was crushed. The event was a success though, our section had so much attention, but I seriously to this day don’t think anybody knew we were there.
If I could go back in time I would do it again (I did the next year). I learned big time from that and honestly it is probably the reason I count on word of mouth for my marketing before I spend the money on marketing for events and large scale productions. I say that to say do what makes you feel comfortable, and even if it makes you feel uncomfortable you are going to make better choices from taking losses in all forms. You have to be willing to take risks in order to grow.
Can you talk to us about how your side-hustle turned into something more.
I have always been creative from as far back as I can remember. I used my creative talents to randomly sell things I would try making like crocheting scarves, or baking treats. I started decorating my kids’ birthday parties and decided I could do other people’s parties. Then I was just like this isn’t enough there has to be more. I hired a Face Painter to do my kids’ party one year. While I was watching her I was thinking to myself I can totally do that too! So I told my sister one day, hey we are about to start face painting. It is about to be Halloween anyways, just bear with me I have a plan I told her. I really didn’t but she did have faith in me, still does thank goodness! So there we are face painting super unprofessionally making close to nothing and occasionally minimum wage.
The little bit that was made I took it and invested into research and using apps like Thumbtack and GigSalad. I was determined to make us the best at whatever we touched. Then we started upgrading our materials from Halloween paints to high-end quality theater makeup/paints, and equipment. That led to opening the studio where taking all of those small hobbies turned into teaching them to others, in a kid-friendly version.
Every day is a milestone, no two days are the same, just like no events are the same. We were just happy to be a part of some of the most amazing events, and sharing our creative talents around our community.
- Website: thepeastudio.com
- Instagram: @thepeastudio
- Facebook: The PEA Studio